Faarin (n.): Foreign, abroad; any developed or “first world” country outside of Jamaica, esp. the US, England or Canada.
ex: Mi gaan a faarin fi di summa halidae (I am going abroad for the summer holiday)
I’m back from my month-long hiatus in California and am in the midst of transition to my third year of Peace Corps service. I’ll have a new job in a new city with a completely new housing arrangement. No more students, no more bush community, no more host family. More about that later.
My time in California was refreshing and strange. For the first several days, one thought ran like a metronome through my brain: this really IS foreign. Everything felt odd, from seeing women drive cars to how empty the suburb streets were during business hours. People on the street avoided eye contact and many appeared visibly uncomfortable when I wished them a good morning. Everyone seemed wealthy, even close friends and family who I know live modestly.
As I stepped deeper into my vacation, the realities of my life in Jamaica and in the Peace Corps felt almost dream-like, like a past life. With each beer flight I consumed and each local-fair-trade mochaccino chocolate bar that I devoured and each almond milk latté complete with latté art that I conversed over, I became more and more distant from the reality I had lived in during the last 27 months.
And then slowly, my old life began to reappear in front of me. The magic wore off and I remembered that the American variety of struggle is often more hidden, more private than what I had become accustomed to. I remembered that the needs and challenges of Americans’ lives manifest differently than those of Jamaicans due to a variety of reasons, not the least of which being the government’s workable budget for social services.
I made wonderful memories with my family, spent time with my brothers (who are suddenly all adults, kind of). I shared laughs and stories and meals with my friends. I met my oldest friend’s 10-month-old baby and almost got him to not cry when I held him (he’s a momma’s boy). I enjoyed the great outdoors and felt immense gratitude for parks and open spaces and hiking trails. I drank craft beer and expensive wine.
I got comfortable.
Before I knew it, my vacation was over. I had to say goodbyes that felt almost as difficult as the ones I’d said when I first left home for Jamaica more than two years ago. I geared up for another year abroad.
I’ve been back for nearly a week, now. I’m spending a few more days in my community in rural Trelawny, enjoying the company of my host family and the cool breeze of the northern hills. Soon, I’ll move to Kingston and into my own apartment to start my new job in the air conditioned Peace Corps Office. I’ve never lived in a capitol city before.
Now the place that feels like a distant memory is my old home in California, a wonderland where anything you might want is at your beck and call. I’m back in the land of no-nonsense “customer service” and red tape, but somehow things feel more simple.
For now, I’m enjoying not having much to do or anywhere to go. As I look forward to the changes ahead, I can’t help but reminisce on the wonderful-but-challenging time I’ve spent here in my community.
Stay tuned for new adventures, experiences, and a different look at Jamaican culture as I begin my *bonus* Third Year Pon di Rock. Thanks for reading!